Stinking Fish, Bare Butts, And Other Good Reasons To Write


Some people write because they have so much personal angst that they feel the need to get it off their chest. Why they don’t just burn  it all,  once the angsty feeling dissipates is easily explained by my mother’s psychological evaluation of all of her growing daughters’ shared boo-ho fests— “Misery loves company!”

Some people write because they want to prove that they know more than everybody else. Not me, because that would be totally delusional. I may know more than almost everybody else on some topics, but definitely less than everybody else on others—like proctology for example, and that’s something that’s never going to change!

Despite the diversity of my home-making experiences, I will never be doing any Martha Stewart type books. My credibility is shot already in that department, now that I have spoken into the ethereal webbyness beyond the WordPress “Publish” button. The freakishness of some of my kitchen blunders— a pressure cooker geyser the likes of Old Faithful on LSD, pitchers of juice that solidified in the fridge and couldn’t be poured by party guests. That’s definitely not the stuff that publishers want to discover after giving you a book deal based on your supposed domestic prowess.

I will not be writing my own version of Nanny diaries, even though I am called Nanny in memory by more than 50 neighbourhood children, who will always be thought of as children by me, though they are now doctors, ministers, contractors, and, strangely impossible—parents. The mother of the first children to come to our home daycare instructed her children to call me Nanny, and in her children’s footsteps more than 50 neighbourhood children that followed over the next ten years did the same. My niece Sarah, who is a grown woman now, had to share her Uncle Rolly with each and every one of the daycare kids who called him by that name too, as they followed her lead.

I would love to be able to publish a book of recipes for the most delicious baked goods you can imagine, all of them once produced in The  Gingerbread House Bakery a business  that my daughter Carrie and I started together in Komoka, a small village four miles away in 1990. The problem is that when we sold it ten years later we included the recipes we had developed and perfected as part of the  agreement so they are of course no longer publishable.We had become so popular that we had barely any time left over for anything else. It was either Go Big! or Go Home! and as we didn’t want to take on big floor space and big staff  just to to try to achieve some freedom for ourselves, we chose instead to to sell. The “Home” we chose to go to was part of the name of the next business we started —”The Home Team”.

As far as writing simply  to post a plethora of household hints, recipes, and cleaning and laundry advice in my blog, that’s not going to happen either. The Home Team, was a home support business that Carrie and I began and worked in  together as well as with other employees before she left to  work exclusively as a chef/pastry chef in the industry.I kept that business, like each of the preceding ones for ten years.Through it I became quite a pro at the mundane, and quite an innovator of solutions to the quirky problems that came up in various homes, but I think that Pinterest seems to already be handling the passing on of that that kind of  information extremely well all on its own.

So then, the question is still up for grabs. What is my purpose in writing? Some people just love an audience; but maybe, like me, they never felt confident enough to command people’s attention verbally. This can happen in big families; somebody else may do a lot of the talking, asking and explaining for you. The only problem is that when it comes down to telling a story, if it’s your story then you want it told from your perspective. Nobody can do it better than you, because you are the only one who got it from your particular vantage point. For me, one of the stories I want told, or obviously I wouldn’t go back to this theme so often, is the story of our family growing up. And I can only tell it best for me when I tell it as the second child of eight, one of the five Stephenson girls, Yvonne.

Having said all that, I am really going out on a limb here by retelling a couple of tales from a couple of tattle tales, who are grown up men now. The first incident was related to me yesterday by my brother Keith. On its heels is a “too crazy to be true but it is” excerpt from my brother Jimmy’s life. I am always telling them “You need to write this stuff down” or “You should write a book.” And I really hope they do; because people always pull their chairs in closer when either of them begins to talk.

Keith told me on the phone yesterday The Story Of The Stinking Fish That’s the title I would give to it anyway. Apparently, he had made a new friend while working on a renovation job; Keith is an outgoing guy, and people take to him right away. Like our Dad before him, Keith is also a whiz when it comes to working with wood and all types of construction materials. While busy on a project he was teasing this  guy about the boasts that he had made about being a fisherman. Keith told the fellow that he didn’t believe a word of  his story about being a fisherman because he hadn’t seen any indication of such an occupation around his place— no fishing gear, no equipment and not a single fish. Keith was just kidding him along, but apparently he had aggravated the poor guy more than he realized—to the point of exasperation, and even beyond that— to the point of generosity! Keith’s truck was all loaded at the end of the day, and just as he was about to pull away from the curb, the man pounded on the window of his truck, and  as soon as the window was down far enough, in flew two big bags of frozen fish! Beautiful fillets in one bag and a bunch of whole fish in the other. Apparently the fellow said something too, but I can’t remember it in its entirety, and I don’t know how to type the combination of asterisks and other punctuation to indicate his adjectives. In short he said “Here’s your fish!”  Keith was appreciative of the fish and looked forward to some great eating, but he was totally exhausted when he got home late  Friday night, and he was glad not to be going back to the job until Monday. It was mid-summer and in the mid nineties the entire weekend. The truck was locked up because he had tools inside, and it was parked in his driveway in the sun. Keith never heard the explosions, but perhaps the neighbours did and thought it was just  Keith, up to his usual high jinks letting off a couple of fireworks. He said that when he opened the truck on Monday morning it was like a scene from C.S.I.— truly vomit-worthy! Both bags of fish had exploded, shooting scales and tails and eyeballs all over the windshield, the steering wheel, the radio, every square inch of the interior. I thought after Keith got off the phone that perhaps, in knowing just how exhausted Keith was, the frustrated friend had a plan all along. I guess Keith just needed a reminder that the scales of justice are always meant to balance truth with fairness.

Our brother Jim, whom we still always call Jimmy, because he’s just more a Jimmy than a Jim, often tells the following story at get-togethers whenever new acquaintances are present. It definitely gives them a feel for the humour that we share in our family. His wife Joanne was a little ticked with him one mid-winter  morning and he had, after everyone had left the house, gone out to the hot tub to have an early morning soak. (At least he thought everyone had already left the house when he went out) but when he jumped out and went to grab for his towel he discovered that he either had forgotten one, or else something had happened to it. In any case, it wasn’t there and when he went to run back into the house naked the door from the deck was locked! So he ran shivering into the shed where  he found a little child- sized yellow rain jacket on a hook. From this he attempted to improvise some kind of loincloth, but not too successfully. He then had to run to the front of the house to retrieve a key, from under a rock in the flowerbed, to open the front door. (Sorry Jimmy, you’ll have to find a new hiding place now!) Just as he was bending over to retrieve it, the school bus drove by full of kids, and the driver couldn’t resist honking at his derriere. Fortunately Jim is such a sociable guy and knows his local police force very well. There are no longer any charges pending.

About Yvonne's Musings

Being the second of eight kids born in 11 years to my busy parents ultimately was a real advantage to me. I learned very early that if you wanted to be heard amidst all the noise the best way to accomplish it was to write your thoughts down. My first post to my mother," i hate skool. i cried at skool tooday!" was stuck with ABC chewing gum to the lid of the diaper pail, where I was certain that she would find it. Her attention quickly elicited in me a love of writing that has been life long. Seeking a wider audience I have decided to now, decades later, blog. Happy reading Mom! This is for you!

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